Opinion- A Rant About Shows at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando is a great resort. They have fantastic attractions, 3 beautiful parks, and awesome team members. But, whenever I go to the parks, they are always lacking 1 major aspect of a theme park- great shows.

This is a rant..  by die-hard park entertainment fans… just remember that.

Park Pass has traveled the world and we have visited every Disney resort, and 3 of the 4 Universal resorts. We LOVE shows! We think it is one of the best part of a theme park experience. We’ve seen good shows, and we’ve seen some pretty awful shows. In this post we are sharing our opinion about the shows at Universal Orlando Resort.

They do have some good shows, not all of them are bad. The Horror Make-Up Show is great. The Animal Actors show, which has been there since the park opened, and the Blue’s Brothers show which is also a long-running show, are also both great. They have the awesome A Day in the Park With Barney, which takes us into Barney’s playground to play with him in an elaborate and exciting theater. Terminator 2:3D is a 3D show that combines live actors and 4D effects, but this is more of an attraction than a live show. Along with the shows mentioned, they also have some new small street shows which are okay, such as the Potter Shows, a Marylin Monroe show, and Sing it!. I can’t leave out the fantastic Beat Builders.

That leaves us with every other show…  and lack of shows… Fear Factor Live? Sinbad Stunt Show? Superstar Parade? Cinematic Spectacular? Live entertainment at Volcano Bay? Bueller?

Let’s start with Universal Studios Florida.. First up, the Superstar Parade. This is a parade that features a total of four IP units, an un-original instrumental soundtrack, and some floats that are not up to the same standards at the competition down the street. Why do we settle for this less than stellar parade in Orlando, while Japan creates fantastic parades such as the Reborn parade, the Minion Water parade, and the Magical Starlight parade? The parades in Japan all seem to be of a higher production value than the ones in Orlando. For example, the Universal Reborn parade features a custom made and UNIQUE soundtrack, larger than life floats, a crazy show stop, and a complete theme that is not just individual floats themed to different IP’s. The Reborn parade has a theme of celebrating Universal’s anniversary around the whole world, so to portray this they created units which were each themed to different parts of the globe. They incorporated IP’s into this by dressing certain characters up in costumes that matched the theme of the float they were riding on.

Now, lets move on to Cinematic Spectacular. This was just rated the worst attraction at Universal Orlando by touring plans. A night time show is supposed to be a spectacle, it is supposed to leave the guests “wowed” as they cap off their day at a theme park. The problem with Cinematic Spectacular is that the show is the screens. The show is 100% portrayed on water projection screens, and jumping fountains simply accompany these video screens, with the occasional firework blast in the background. In order for this show to be good, these roles must be reversed. The screens should accompany to the fountains, lasers, lights and fireworks, not the other way around. A great example of this is Happily Ever After. If the show did not have projection mapping on the castle, it would still be a fantastic show. Same goes for World of Color, take away the projection and a fantastic show that portrays a story would still be told. It is not like this for Universal’s Cinematic “Spectacular”. If the video screens were taken out of the show, the show would simply not exist anymore, because watching small fountains jump up and down is not exciting. Projection should merely be used as a set piece, throughout the show occasionally used to tell parts of the story, but not the WHOLE story.

We are… Moving on! Oh wait… that great show got killed off. Speaking of being killed off… WHAT THE HECK IS FEAR FACTOR LIVE STILL DOING HERE!? This show is the second worst show at Universal Orlando. There is a reason it’s Hollywood counterpart only lasted for 3 years. Why this show is still here blows my mind. I do not understand. The show SUCKS. It is based off of an unpopular IP, and it has simply overstayed its welcome at Universal Orlando. I do not think that I have met any theme park fan who actually enjoys Fear Factor Live.

Universal Studios Florida needs some new entertainment. With their recent track record, it seems as if Universal Orlando will never actually open a new stage show. This is a shame, hopefully they prove me wrong! If you notice the dates that the Barney show, Terminator 2, and Waterworld were created, they all opened around the same time; T2 in ’96, Waterworld and Barney in ’95. It seems as if during this time period they had a very show centric creative team. Around that same era they also pumped out Backdraft in ’92, and Twister Ride it Out in ’98.

Moving on to Islands of Adventure, the first thing you notice once you reach the end of Port of Entry is that they have a massive lake smack dab in the center of the park. You’ll notice that around the lake there are huge areas… almost look like viewing areas. You will also notice this.. THEY DO NOT HAVE ANY TYPE OF SHOW IN THEIR MASSIVE SHOW LAGOON!! Why do they not have a night show in this huge lake? Blows my mind. No clue. Really do not understand why they do not have a show here. Every single island at the park (excluding Skull Island) has a built in show viewing area, yet they don’t have a show.

Photo from Orlando Informer

Moving into Toon Lagoon we come across a massive theater, perhaps the largest one on property. Once again, you will notice that much like the show lagoon, this theater features no show at all. Why? Good question. Beats me.

Now we are in the Lost Continent. We find the Sinbad Stunt Show, we go sit down and watch, and we notice that it sucks. It is just plain awful. Terrible script, terrible actor names, terrible story line, terrible jokes… it has a cool looking set? That’s all I can give it.

Volcano Bay is their newest park, a water theme park. It’s a very fantastic park, which we gave 4 stars. This park has no live entertainment.

Please Universal, bring us Waterworld, bring us a good night show, bring us a good parade, bring us a show to replace Sinbad and Fear Factor.. Please Universal Gods.

If Universal Studios Japan can do amazing stuff like the Reborn parade, the Magical Starlight parade, their SPECTACULAR Christmas show, and even an awesome Harry Potter nighttime projection show (with drones!), Orlando can do it too. It bewilders me as to why Universal hasn’t brought this type of stuff to Orlando, as they desperately need it to make their great parks even better.

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